On Mother’s Day, Honor the Mothers without Children, Too
For all its commercial slickness, Mother’s Day is really a sweet holiday. It’s a time for us to reflect on all that our mothers do for us, and a time for moms to receive heartfelt trinkets that let them know their families love them. For those who’ve lost their mothers or moms whose children have passed away, there’s often a special tenderness shown, by those around them who are sensitive to their grief. Another group, though, is often overlooked. Women who wanted children but have suffered the pain of infertility and loss go unnoticed on Mother’s Day, sometimes because people don’t know, and sometimes because people don’t understand.
Many women long for children from the time they are young, but are never granted the opportunity to have a child. Maybe they tried and were unable, and maybe they traveled the arduous path of fertility treatment to no avail. Other women have lost children in the womb or at birth, ruining their visions of first steps, first days of school, and first dances. There are women with broken hearts that will never fully heal, even though they hide the scars from the world. Where do they put the grief? Many of them invest their mothers’ hearts in other children, giving support and love to nieces, nephews, neighbors, or even students.
These women matter, and they deserve our care. While celebrating your mom, or basking in the love of your children, ask yourself who you know who may be feeling left out. What can you give back this Mothers’ Day, to the women who aren’t mothers?
- See them. While you’d know it if someone in your circle lost an older child, you don’t always know who has had a pregnancy loss or struggled with infertility. If you do know someone who is struggling with something like this, acknowledge her struggle on Mothers’ Day. Give her flowers, a card, or even a hug, just to say, “I see you, I care about your pain, and I grieve with you.”
- Listen to them. A mother who has suffered a miscarriage or still birth may need to tell her story and talk about her grief. If you know someone who has been through this experience, be a listening ear without giving advice or passing judgment. Just listen, and really hear what she needs to tell you.
- Thank them. Acknowledge the way the childless women in your life nurture others, especially if the people they’re helping are your own children. Take her to lunch, get your child to draw her a picture, or just give a call to express your gratitude for the investment she makes in other people’s lives.
- Support causes that provide help. Miscarriage, stillbirth, and infertility are all problems that are often swept under the rug and not discussed. Women living through these experiences, though, need the support of their communities. This Mother’s Day, consider donating to a cause that promotes awareness or provides support services to women who have suffered a loss or are trying to become moms.
If you have suffered the loss of a child, whether before or after birth, we are here to help. We can provide resources like books, counseling, and support groups designed to help you work through your grief and move forward towards healing. If you need help memorializing your child in a meaningful way, we can help with that, too. Call us today, to learn how we can be there for you.
Written by Kristen Ernst, MA, LPC
Kristen Ernst, MA, LPC is owner and operator of the Center for Hope & Healing in St Charles, Missouri. Kristen has years of experience counseling hospice patients and their families. Her private practice concentrates on grief and traumatic loss. She also contributes as a specialist in grief support as a group facilitator, writer, and educator in the community.